Water is one of the first things we think of when someone says “summer”. Swimming, boating, fishing, diving, kayaking, white water rafting – the list of water-related activities goes on and on. It’s just plain fun. There is no doubt about it. But water is also dangerous and it’s something we often forget in our rush to enjoy it. The sun comes out, the clothes come off, and in we jump. I’m all for it. The trick is to do it safely.
The first step is knowing what the dangers are. And there is a lot that can go wrong in and around water. People are generally aware of drowning as a major water danger but how many of us stop to think about how that might happen? Babies can drown in as little as one inch of water. Older swimmers can suffer a medical issue (muscle cramps, seizures, heart attack) or exhaustion when swimming in deep water, injure themselves on a submerged object, or be caught in a strong current and get trapped underwater or be swept out far from shore. If that’s not enough, there is dangerous aquatic life (sharks or jellyfish, anyone?) and water-born bacteria to contend with (read up on Recreational Water Illnesses for fun). And if the water itself doesn’t get you, there’s always a chance you’ll come home with a mother of a sunburn, since water reflects and intensifies the sun’s rays and can crisp you up in no time.
That’s it for the bad news. Once you learn how to deal with these dangers, it’s all uphill from there. And the good news is that it’s not rocket science. Most of this stuff is common sense. As long as you read up on it, take the steps to protect yourself, and keep your cool, summer fun need not end in tragedy. Here are some tips to get you started:
For a more detailed read on water dangers and how to avoid them, here are some great resources on recreational water safety:
- Swimming, Boating and Water Safety Tips from the Canadian Red Cross
- Recreational Water Safety from Medline Plus (lots of great links to other resources here)
- Boating Safety and Regulation in Canada from Transport Canada
- Ten Dangers at the Beach from National Ocean Service
- Unintentional Drowning Facts from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Recreational Water Illnesses from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Now go have fun! (Safely)